Tuesday, July 31, 2007

16 ’Av 5767: Parent’s Day

Greetings.

Strangely-named gene of the day: X BOX-BINDING PROTEIN 1.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, submitted to me by Erin, is the Rejection Hotline, for when you want to dump somebody but don’t know how. (No, she has not rejected me. She just thought it was funny.) Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Monday, July 30, 2007

Worthy cause of the day: “Start our clean energy future now”

Greetings.

Today’s worthy cause is the MoveOn.org Political Action petition “Start our clean energy future now”. Please sign and tell your congresspeople to wean the US off oil and to promote the use of renewable energy. Not only is this good for the environment, but the less foreign oil we use, they less point there is kowtowing to enemy countries.  Thanks in advance for your help.

Aaron

15 ’Av 5767: The Israeli Equivalent of Valentine’s Day/National Cheesecake Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, inspired by “Fans honor 'world's worst poet'”, is McGonagall Online. Enjoy and share the world’s worst poetry in the English language.

Aaron

Sunday, July 29, 2007

14 ’Av 5767: Review of The Simpsons Movie

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, included below, was submitted by a rather jaundiced, though cheerful, man. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron



Hi-dilly-ho, neighbors!

There's a whole lot of chattering going on about this new Simpsons movie, so I thought I'd throw my own two cents in. Now they say there's a lot of good stuff in that moo-diddy-oovie, and that there is. But despite the positive pro-family message, more laughs than you can shake a stick at, and quite a lot of well deserved screen time for one particular character, I got to say, no one should really be watching this movie. And there's one doozy of a reason for that: Filth.

This movie shows two male polite officers kissing each other and going into a hotel room for immoral purposes. And to emphasize one woman's ches-diddly-estily. And worst of all, there is outright child pornography, with a clear view of an underage boy's flander-doodle!

It is one thing to show a deplorable Itchy and Scratchy cartoon, or someone being crushed to death, or the attempted murder of thousands of people. But by gosh, that's nothing compared to the most ungodly forms of doodily, well, that just makes my blood boil. Maybe it's not my place to tell you, but I can't see any good parent taking their kids to watch this thing. No, my Rod and Todd won't be exposed that kind of violent, doodily-filled film, or indeed anything like that. No, for my boys it's first and foremost the wholesome stuff that won't put ideas like that in their blessed heads, and that means the Bible.

Okily-dokily!

Your neighbor,

Ned Flanders

Thursday, July 26, 2007

11 ’Av 5767: Lord Voldemort Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, included below, is a statement given to me by a really creepy-looking guy with a really scary-looking magic wand and a really hungry-looking and huge snake. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron



Hello. I am Lord Voldemort, made famous by J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  In this series, Ms. Rowling goes to great lengths to slander me, depicting me in the most negative light conceivable.  As such, I would like to take this opportunity to spoil the ending of the last book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, for those who have not finished it yet.

The true villain turns out to be Neville Longbottom, who has been pretending to be even more pathetic than Dobby the House Elf to evade detection.  It is Neville who is behind everything horrible that happens to Harry Potter, even Dudley Dursley being a spoiled jerk.  Harry is on the verge of defeating Neville, but he is stabbed in the back—literally—by Ginny Weasley, who has discovered that Harry only dated her as a way to get close to her brother Ron.  Ginny in turn is stabbed in the back by Ron, who is sick and tired of Ginny ruining his life.  Ron is stabbed in the back by Hermione Granger, who only dated Ron as a way to get close to Ginny.  Hermione is stabbed in the back by that weird kid Luna Lovegood, who envied how much attention she got, and Luna is stabbed in the back by Nearly-Headless Nick, who thinks she is too annoying to live.  And so there is a long chain of back-stabbing which goes on until no one is left but Dobby the House Elf and Neville Longbottom.  Dobby deliberately tries not to stab Neville in the back, but since he is so utterly incompetent, he stabs him anyway 17 times.  With no one left to stop him, Dobby becomes the King of England.  Thus ends the story of Harry Potter.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

9 ’Av 5767

Greetings.

Worthy cause of the day (submitted by Barry): “Reform the Farm Bill”

Today’s news and commentary:Due to the sad nature of the day, there will be no weird thing today.

Aaron

Tomorrow’s holiday and a worthy cause

Greetings.

Tomorrow with be the Ninth of ’Av, the official Jewish day of mourning. Due to fasting, I may well not be up to posting tomorrow. You can find out more on the holiday inthe Wikipedia article “Tisha B'Av”.

Worthy cause of the day: “Biggest health care moment in 40 years”. Please sign and let your Congresspeople know you want them to make sure that all children in the United States have health insurance. Thank you.

Aaron

Monday, July 23, 2007

8 ’Av 5767: National Vanilla Ice Cream Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:In place of a weird thing, since today is during the Nine Days, I am going to do a little sermonizing.

Recently I finished reading Sabbatai Ṣevi: the Mystical Messiah, 1626-1676 by Gershom Scholem. Shabbethay Sevi was hailed as Mashiah (the Messiah) in 1665, and his movement took the Jewish world by storm, spreading across Europe and the Middle East with astonishing rapidity. Convinced that the Messianic era was at hand, there was an unprecedented outbreak of repentance and pietism. Much of this took the form of asceticism—extended fasts, self-flagellation, rolling around naked in the snow, and the like—according to the strictures of R. Yishaq Luryah. The overall level of observance increased. Men let their peyoth grow out. The unmarried got married. People made sure to support the needy. Commerce came to a virtual standstill as people devoted themselves to Torah study full-time. I am unaware of anything remotely like this since the days of King Hizqiyyahu (Hezekiah).

Even though it turned out that Shabbethay Sevi was not Mashiah, one may ask why this period is not remembered today as Jewry’s finest hour. On the contrary, there has been a deliberate effort to blot out the memory of this episode to the fullest extent possible. And this is because this event had a tragic downside: it was also a time of great internal strife. Belief in Shabbethay Sevi, though common, was not universal; there were nonbelievers and those who were unsure what to believe as well. Unfortunately, Shabbethay Sevi and his would-be prophet, Nathan of ‘Azza, demanded blind faith that Shabbethay was Mashiah—a demand sure to alienate anyone rational who did not reach the desired conclusion. To make things worse, Shabbethay and his followers were not above using violence and terrorism against nonbelievers. This only raised the animosity between believer and nonbeliever. Since the new movement did not end with the apostasy or even Shabbethay’s death, the animosity between the two parties went on for over a century. Even at the time of the Vilna Ga’on (1720-1797), the charge of being a Sabbatian was still considered a serious one. With the high levels of mutual animosity, those who still clung to the belief that Shabbethay was Mashiah eventually went underground, growing ever more radical, and many apostatized themselves and have been lost to the Jewish people. I am not clear whether they they have survived at all to the present.

The lesson from all this is that intolerance is socially destructive, a lesson that people in general still have not learned and which should be obvious to anyone with any idea of what goes on on Earth. It is all too easy to forget that being even flat-out wrong is not the same thing as being evil and that being even clearly right is not the same thing as being good. Furthermore, using violence to try to enforce one’s being right only makes a mockery of it; for if one cannot prove one is right by evidence and argument alone, how can one expect using violence or silencing one’s opponents will make one genuinely more convincing? While tolerating those who disagree may be a less dramatic approach to the battle for truth, it is at least an approach we can all live with.

Aaron

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

3 ’Av 5767: National Ice Cream Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:In lieu of a weird thing, as part of my Divine Misconceptions project, I present my review of The Prince of Egypt below. Enjoy (or be scared at the gross theological errors or something).

Aaron



There can be miracles when you disbelieve: a review of The Prince of Egypt:

First off, The Prince of Egypt is not a bad movie. The general outline of the story of the Exodus is intact. The plot holds together, and the animation looks good. There is no lack of imagination in the production, e.g., the dream sequence in which Mosheh (Moses) sees history on the walls as an animation imitating the style of the pictures that accompany Egyptian hieroglyphics and the Magicians’ performance when turning their staffs into snakes. The writers must also be given credit for trying to fill out the personalities, histories, and relationships of some of the less prominent characters.

However, there is a huge flaw with this movie. Everything in a rational, orthodox religion has to be linked back to prophetic revelation, the only reliable source of information about deities and what they want; getting tradition wrong leads to invalid deductions, which in turn lead to improper behavior and heretical beliefs. As such, there is a prominent unwritten rule of good religious thought:

YOU WILL NOT TAMPER WITH TRADITION.

This is not a barrier to interpretation; however, all interpretation has to remain within the boundaries delineated by tradition. And, unfortunately, The Prince of Egypt violates these boundaries repeatedly, and not to the benefit of the film. To make things worse, the tampering goes straight to the very core of the story of the Exodus. And the more I think about it, these changes seem to be mostly attributable to one single error: the imposition of modern ideas on pre-modern story.


Modern idea #1: “Religious belief has to be blind faith.”

The story of the Exodus is essentially a story of the nature of YHWH (God). Most, if not all, of what Mosheh (Moses) and ’Aharon (Aaron) do are on YHWH’s order (Exodus 3:15-4:23, 4:27-5:3, 5:22-23, 6:6-13, 6:26-7:6, 7:8-10, 7:14-19, 7:26-8:2, 8:12-13, 8:16-19; 9:1-5, 9:8-10; 9:13-23, 10:1-6, 10:12-13, 10:21-22, 11:1-12:28, 14:1-4, 14:13-21). The central relationship is between YHWH (God) and Par‘oh II (the Pharaoh identified as Raamses in the film), who are locked in a contest of wills to see who will break first. With every meeting between Mosheh and Par‘oh II, with every plague, it becomes increasingly clear that YHWH, unchangable and unmovable, has the power and that Mosheh really is a prophet. Mosheh’s prophecy is empirically verifiable, since he makes non-trivial predictions and they come true.

Today, people have the odd notion that faith has to be blind, necessitating that the reasons for belief have to be emotional. Evidence is anathema to such a system, as evidence can contradict blind faith. As such, blind faith in apparent or real contradiction with evidence is an invitation for conflict. If the disparity becomes sufficiently obvious, people make fun of those who believe blindly. Therefore, those who are wise modify their beliefs to accommodate the evidence and do not believe blindly, but those who are unwise prefer to ignore the evidence or deny it. In The Prince of Egypt, the filmmakers have taken the path of the unwise and have thus taken pains to lessen the amount of evidence in the story so that blind faith is more workable. No one sees Mosheh’s staff swallow up the staffs of the Magicians. Mosheh’s performance of the miracle of his hand turning white from the skin disease sara‘ath (Exodus 4:6-7; it is often mistranslated as “leprosy”) has been eliminated. While the Magicians’ reproduction of changing water into blood is presented, the escalation to producing frogs (Exodus 8:3) and their conceding defeat when they cannot produce vermin (Exodus 8:14-15) is not. Most of the plagues have been crammed together into a single montage, eliminating the increasing stress which Par‘oh II has to withstand, his moments of panic, and the unkept promises he makes before he ultimately crumbles, making it seem that he stands uncompromisingly firm, blindly believing in his own gods and himself the entire time. Eliminated, too, is ’Aharon’s prophecy; only Mosheh hears the voice of YHWH, and everyone else is expected to believe blindly. Indeed, the filmmakers concocted the fiction of Mosheh urging the Jews to believe during the plague of blood.

However, if people are supposed to believe blindly in YHWH, YHWH cannot be the central character or participate in the central relationship, as this would make the existence of the Deity too obvious and destroy blind faith. Thus the filmmakers have changed the focus of the film so that the central relationship is between Mosheh and Par‘oh II, effectively snubbing YHWH. Not only is snubbing YHWH theologically offensive, but the new central relationship is of a lower quality than the original one. Mosheh versus Par‘oh II is the story of two brothers whom duty demands be enemies; Par‘oh II’s refusal to free the Jewish people from slavery is further strengthened by his resentment for all the trouble that Mosheh got him into when they were children, i.e., his refusal is fed by human pettiness. The original central relationship, on the other hand, is not a spat between mere mortals, but a contest of wills between gods. If you know little or nothing about Ra, Isis, Osiris, Horus, Nephthys, Set, and everyone else in the Egyptian pantheon, I recommend Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods by Dimitri Meeks and Christine Favard-Meeks; the whole lot, as detailed in the book, is fairly disgusting and rather banal. The Egyptian gods are material entities, essentially magnified humans; almost all of them are created beings. Their behavior is likewise human, incorporating rather unsavory elements of human behavior, such as lawsuits fated to go on forever, unfair juries, murder, cannibalism, adultery, and incest. YHWH, the Jewish god, is a rather different sort of deity, transcendent and without form, and condemning behavior that the gods of the contemporary Middle Eastern religions considered normal and perfectly acceptable. Such a deity must have seemed downright bizarre and possibly dangerous. Par‘oh II’s stubbornness may not be a mere refusal to give in to Mosheh, another human, but may have a heavy component of “my god can beat up your god”—blind faith which he struggles to stick with until after ten plagues he cannot convince himself any longer that his gods will eventually triumph. And since the Par‘oh is supposed to be a god himself, his refusal to submit may be due to a need to make himself equal to any god who challenges him, lest he be proven lesser than a deity. Paradoxically, making Par‘oh II embrace his alleged divinity would have made him a more human character.

Frequently a bad religious idea will have an opposite and equally bad twin, and blind faith has the equally thoughtless twin of blind skepticism. These two bad ideas are embodied in the film in the persons of Miryam (Miriam) and her brother ’Aharon. These two bumble through the film in a constant disagreement, with Miryam believing that Mosheh is the savior for no apparent reason and ’Aharon being very skeptical and supporting maintenance of the status quo. Miryam inevitably comes out looking wonderfully happy and optimistic, and ’Aharon unsurprisingly looks like a jerk.

This basic morality play makes plenty of sense for filmmakers trying to make blind faith look good and skepticism bad, without even wanting to deal with the notion that belief, disbelief, and even doubt can have solid reasons. But casting ’Aharon as a skeptic is baseless in the original text, and even examining the Mosheh-Par‘oh II relationship, the movie-makers perplexingly screwed up a golden opportunity, and that would have been to emphasize the competing Mosheh-’Aharon relationship. ’Aharon in the original text is Mosheh’s supporter, right-hand man, co-prophet, and spokesman (Exodus 4:14-16, 4:27-30, 5:1, 5:5, 5:20, 6:13, 6:26-27, 7:1-2, 7:6, 7:8, 7:10, 8:4, 8:8, 8:21, 9:8, 9:27-28, 10:3, 10:8, 10:10-11, 10:16-17, 11:9, 12:1, 12:28, 12:31-32, 12:43, 12:50). (Mosheh has a speech impediment (Exodus 4:10, 6:30), also not portrayed in the film.) ’Aharon also takes part in the performance of ritual acts accompanying the miracles (7:9-10, 7:19-20, 8:1-2, 8:12-13, 9:8, 11:10). The constant presence of ’Aharon could easily infuriate Par‘oh II, for, after all, why should Mosheh be siding with the long-lost brother he never knew against his favorite adopted relative? Mosheh siding with an amorphous Jewish people is one thing, but always having ’Aharon along, effectively replacing Par‘oh II in his life, can be taken as an insult to Par‘oh II personally, thus raising the tension. The filmmakers did not even have the sense to cast Miryam as Mosheh’s sidekick, which in a more patriarchal world might be considered an even bigger insult to Par‘oh II.

The notion of the importance of blind faith is taken is taken to an extreme and heretical level. One of the songs has lyrics that are just downright inappropriate for the story:

Many nights we’ve prayed
With no hope anyone could hear.
In our hearts a hopeful song we barely understood.
Now we are not afraid
Although we know there’s much to fear.
We were moving mountains long before we knew we could.


There can be miracles when you believe.
Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill.

Who knows what miracles you can 
When you believe?
Somehow you will,
You will when you believe.

In this time of fear,
When prayer so often proved in vain,
Hope seemed like the summer birds
so swiftly flown away.
But now I'm standing here (Now I’m standing here)

With heart so full I can’t explain
Seeking faith and speaking words I never thought I'd say.


There can be miracles when you believe.
Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill.

Who knows what miracles you can
When you believe?
Somehow you will,
You will when you believe.

For one thing, it is never claimed in the original text that the Jews were redeemed because they believed. On the contrary, Mosheh is hesitant to accept his mission and raises possible difficulties (Exodus 3:11, 3:13, 4:1, 4:10, 4:13) and the Elders blame Mosheh for punishment they receive from Par‘oh II (Exodus 5:15-16, 5:21). The redemption happens despite the disbelief. YHWH forbid that anyone claim we need belief for open miracles to happen! If we say thus, we lower ourselves to the level of pseudoscientists and magicians who claim the phenomena they believe in only happen when everyone in the area believes in them. What sort of fool would attribute such a preposterous limitation to a deity who objectively exists?

For another thing, even though correct belief is meritorious, it does not, in and of itself, accomplish anything. We are machines whose existence and functioning is only according to the Divine Will as manifest in the inviolable laws of physics. Even if a prophet seems to perform an open miracle, since even the greatest prophet is bound by the Divine Will to the laws of physics, it is not really the prophet who performs the miracle, but YHWH. For YHWH, being the Creator of the laws of physics, is not bound by them at all and may freely violate them. As belief is a function of our brains and thus ultimately a physical process, our believing can only accomplish things permitted by the laws of physics. Belief can be translated into physical actions, but mere physical actions are not usually referred to as miracles. Likewise, prayer, while also meritorious, is nothing more physically than producing sounds, and thus it cannot of itself cause an open miracle. What makes the song heretical and not merely wrong is that it incorrectly asserts that belief and prayer accomplished the Exodus and denies the words of Scripture. As it is said, “I am YHWH your deity who brought you out from the land of Egypt from the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2)—“I am YHWH your deity who brought you out” and not “You brought yourself out”.


Modern idea #2: The liberation of women.

Even without making Miryam Mosheh’s sidekick, as his sister and a prophet and (especially) playing a crucial role in convincing the daughter (not wife) of Par‘oh I to let Yokhevedh (Jochebed, Mosheh’s mother) care for the baby Mosheh until he is weaned (Exodus 2:5-8), she would still be the rational choice for a female lead character to explore beyond the original text. Bafflingly, the filmmakers eliminated her interaction with Mosheh’s adopted mother, reduced her to a stereotype of blind faith, and emphasized Sipporah (Zipporah, wife of Mosheh) instead. What the movie got right about her behavior is that she marries Mosheh (Exodus 2:21) and that she goes with him at least part of the way down to Egypt (Exodus 4:20-25). Practically everything else about her in the film is a fiction. The filmmakers could not even be bothered to have her present when the rest of her sisters are attacked at the well (Exodus 2:16-17). The character invented seems to be an attempt at transplanting an idealized liberated woman into a patriarchal society, willing to fight and not above dropping Mosheh into a well. Now, Sipporah may well be a tough woman; she has enough strength of character to circumcise her own infant son and rebuke Mosheh (Exodus 4:25). But emphasizing her as a strong, prominent character in the film has not been thought out properly, as she is never, ever used to advance the main plot. All her liberation achieves is to establish a new story for the first meeting of Mosheh and Sipporah—and one rather unflattering to Mosheh, at that. Once they return to Egypt, she appears with Mosheh at the first visit to Par‘oh II and then disappears mysteriously until after the Slaying of the Firstborn. The filmmakers would have done better to have her take her and Mosheh’s children (strangely absent from the film) and return with them to the household of Yithro (Jethro) implied by the original text (Exodus 18:2-4; perhaps she fears that there will be another instance of Divine anger and the children will be killed) and have a reunion at Mount Sinay (Sinai) (Exodus 18:5-6).

A consequence of the liberation of Sipporah is tampering with her age relative to Mosheh. Mosheh is 80 at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 7:7). Sipporah has a baby soon before that (her second, compare Exodus 2:22 and 4:20), so (barring an open miracle) she probably is no older than 40 at the time, perhaps a lot less. An age gap of 40 years or more makes plenty of sense in a patriarchal society where marriages are arranged. Said gap makes little sense in modern times, however, when women have a greater choice in who they marry. A woman today can marry a man old enough to be her grandfather, but she does so under the suspicion that the reason for the match is anything but true love. Automatically, we label the woman a “gold-digger” and the man a “cradle-robber”. To avoid such an unacceptable situation, the age of Mosheh has been drastically reduced so that he and Sipporah are about the same age. The drastic lowering of Mosheh’s age has also been applied to his siblings, ’Aharon and Miryam.

Making Mosheh dramatically younger may make him someone with whom younger people (an important demographic for marketers) can better identify, but it also hampers him on his mission. Today the rate of societal change is rapid; as such younger people, who are less set in their ways and tend to be more easily adaptable, have an advantage. But in the old days, when the rate of societal change was much slower than today, older people had the advantage; their accumulated knowledge would still be current even after decades, so life-experience meant a lot more. It is a serious thing for Par‘oh II to snub an 80-year-old Mosheh, a man who exudes wisdom and is to be respected. Making Mosheh young makes him an inexperienced upstart unworthy of consideration; Par‘oh II has no reason to assume he knows what he is talking about. Arguably sending someone so green would also reflect badly on YHWH; surely a great deity could find someone better than some dumb kid to be his messenger.


Modern idea #3: Adolescence.

The reduction in the age of Mosheh works well not merely with the liberation of Sipporah; it also works well with another idea foreign to the world of the Hebrew Bible: adolescence. Of course humans back then went through the same physical changes that we go through now, but there are no references in the Hebrew Bible to a period of life when it was expected that young people would tend to act irresponsibly. I am not aware of such behavior being considered normal until relatively recently. Indeed, I have trouble imagining it would be tolerated when it was expected that people would take on adult responsibilities (such as jobs) much earlier than they do today. In fact, there is a famous law permitting parents under certain conditions to put irresponsible boys to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-23), fortunately little invoked (Talmudh Bavli, Sanhedhrin 71a).

Making Mosheh irresponsible as a young man automatically lowers his esteem in the eyes of Par‘oh II, especially since the memories are still relatively fresh and Par‘oh II repeatedly gets into trouble because of him. And since at most only a few years pass in the film between Mosheh fleeing Egypt and returning, Par‘oh II has little reason to assume he has changed. This only intensifies the low esteem Mosheh should find in the eyes of Par‘oh II due to his young age.

A side effect of giving Mosheh an adolescence is a transformation of the events which led to his leaving Egypt. The killing of an Egyptian overseer who is beating a Jewish slave by Mosheh is clearly deliberate in the original text; Mosheh checks first to see if anyone is looking, and then he kills (Exodus 2:11-12). There is a second incident the next day, in which Mosheh tries breaking up a fight between two Jewish slaves, one of whom rebukes him, mentioning the killing. At that point Mosheh flees, rationally fearing for his life (Exodus 2:13-14). The movie, however, condenses the two incidents into one which does not reflect either of the two well. Mosheh tries to stop the Egyptian overseer from beating a Jewish slave, and not thinking—as would be expected from an irresponsible young man—ends up plunging with the overseer to the latter’s death publicly in the middle of a temple construction site. Mosheh irrationally leaves Egypt despite assurances from Par‘oh II that he will paper over the incident so nothing bad will happen to him, and considering that Par‘oh II has little regard for the lives of those under him, this may well be the truth. Both versions do have Mosheh take a moral stand against the beating of a slave, but the film transforms his behavior from deliberate and rational to impulsive and irrational.


Modern idea #4: Abhorrence of animal sacrifice.

The fact that the lambs being slaughtered were sacrifices is omitted (Exodus 12:27). Americans tend to have an irrational disgust for animal sacrifice, viewing killing an animal as a form of worship as barbaric and primitive, all the while finding nothing wrong with the idea of killing an animal for their own pleasure as faultless. Given our disapproving culture, failure to mention that the lambs were sacrifices is arguably an act of moral cowardice.


Modern idea #5: YHWH is a smoky, material being.

YHWH is never depicted in the Hebrew Bible as looking like whatever lived in the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. I have no idea where Lucas got that idea in the first place, but Dreamworks should never have plagiarized it. Furthermore, YHWH most certainly did not wander around Egypt serially visiting every house like Santa Claus. Whatever happened happened simultaneously all over Egypt (Exodus 12:29). Considering that the writers got the theology wrong, this should not be surprising.


Modern idea #6: “What? Me learn Hebrew?”

Those who are committed to a particular religion must study that religion’s canon and classical literature. These books are the very definition of a religion or sect, and every valid interpretation and ruling must be grounded in them. In order to facilitate proper understanding, the best thing to do is to learn the language of the canon and classics. Those who fail to do so have no choice but to rely on a translation.

But relying on a translation is fraught with danger. Translations are necessarily imperfect. Words in one language often cannot be rendered precisely in another. Interpretation is inevitably imposed on the texts. Vagueness is easily metamorphosed into clarity. Even worse, the translator can get the translation blatantly wrong, transforming the text into something very different than the original. And scarily enough, in modern America, the average person has never, ever considered the dangers of translation and will look puzzled when confronted with this problem.

One consequence of this is to copy the dialog from a faulty translation rather than translate the original. “Let my people go” is not a correct rendering of the Hebrew original of Exodus 5:1. An accurate translation would be “Send [forth] my people”—not passive permission, but a demand that Par‘oh II actively get the Jews out of Egypt. Furthermore, the names used for characters are typical English ones, not ones reflecting the original language as I have done.

Though the filmmakers could not be bothered to even stick to even a bad translation of Exodus in writing the script, in what is probably an attempt to make it look like they knew what they were doing, they put some Hebrew in a song at the beginning and included the Song at the Sea (Exodus 15:1-19) near the end. However it is blatantly obvious to anyone who understands Hebrew that whoever is responsible for the Song’s placement did not understand the lyrics. In the original text, the Song at the Sea is sung after the Egyptians drown at the Reed Sea (Exodus 14:31-15:1). (Thank YHWH they avoided the mistranslation “Red Sea”.) In a clear violation of the sense of the lyrics, the movie has the Song at the Sea sung before the splitting of the Reed Sea, and it makes no sense to have the Jews singing about how the Egyptians have drowned before it occurs.

While I am complaining, the movie also eliminates panic at the Reed Sea (Exodus 14:10-15) and ignores that most people in such a religiously charged situation would probably be strongly affected emotionally, and many would be flipping out, babbling, having visions, and even losing self-control. Not to mention the Egyptians are not on record as dismounting their chariots in the Reed Sea.


Other blunders:

1) The Jews in Egypt are not on record as erecting monuments or temples. They are on record as having making bricks (Exodus 1:14, 5:7-8) and building store cities (Exodus 1:11).

2) Par‘oh II’s reaction to Mosheh’s demands is not to double the workload on the Jews; rather he orders the Jews to deliver the same quota of bricks as before, only now without one of the components, straw, being provided for them (Exodus 5:18).

3) In the original text, Moshe does not go to Par‘oh II after the Slaying of the Firstborn. Rather, Par‘oh II comes to Mosheh and practically throws him out of the country (Exodus 12:31-32). In fact, there should be an immediate push by the Egyptians to get the Jews out of Egypt, right there and then, in the middle of the night (Exodus 12:33).

4) The depiction of Mount Sinay (Sinai) is ridiculously tame, with no attempt to capture the pyrotechnic flavor of the original text (Exodus 19:16-20:17).

5) While the music sounded good, it did not fit the story well, particularly at the Burning Bush, where it is too happy. Considering that the story of the Exodus is straight out of the Torah, why could they not compose something that sounded reminiscent of Torah cantillation?


Overall classification: Decent family movie.

Theological rating: D.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

29 Tammuz 5767: Pre-Nine Days Laundry Day/National Tapioca Pudding Day/Respect Canada Day

Greetings.

Note: Due to the serious nature of the Nine Days, there will be no weird things until after 10 ’Av (25 July). There may be news, worthy causes, and Divine Misconceptions-related reviews.

Worthy cause of the day: Free the iPhone : Support wireless freedom!

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is the completely worthless USB Ashtray. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Friday, July 13, 2007

27 Tammuz 5767: Embrace your geekness Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary, much of which Barry may be responsible for:Today’s weird thing is “Planet Earth - Inversed”, which just struck me as bizarre. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.

Aaron

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

25 Tammuz 5767: National Slurpee Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “RottaFlekti/MouseFan”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

24 Tammuz 5767: Clerihew Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is Google Mars. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Monday, July 9, 2007

23 Tammuz 5767: National Sugar Cookie Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, submitted by Barry, is OxymoronList.com. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Friday, July 6, 2007

Aaron’s curriculum vitae




Epidemiologist, statistician, computer expert

Relevant work experience:
Epidemiologist at the Israel National Center for Trauma & Emergency Medicine Research, The Gertner Institute, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, 52621, 2011-03 to present.

Research assistant to Dr. Frank D. Groves at the Medical University of South Carolina, 2001-03 to 2004-01 (grant ran out at this point, though work continued afterwards), looking up papers and performing writing and statistical analyses on the etiology of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia towards my dissertation.

Education:
PhD, epidemiology 2007
Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
Dissertation:  Population mixing and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Directors:  Dr. Frank D. Groves and Dr. David G. Hoel.

BA, computer science cum laude 1994
Yeshiva University, New York, NY
Computer skills:
Statistics software, applied towards a variety of statistical and data analysis techniques:  SAS, R (GNU S), Egret, SQL.
Programming languages:  C, Objective-C, Pascal, LISP, Prolog, 80x86 assembly language, AppleScript.
Operating systems:  Mac OS X, UNIX, Windows.
Informal technical support (1987 to present), including installing RAM and hard drives.
Regularly uses a wide variety of software and has used more, including Microsoft Office.
Quickly learns new software and hardware.

Publications:
Adelman, A.S., Groves, F.D., O’Rourke, K., Sinha, D., Hulsey, T.C., Lawson, A.B., Wartenberg, D. & Hoel, D.G. (2007). Residential mobility and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: an ecological study. Br J Cancer, 97, 140-4.
Adelman, A.S., McLaughlin, C.C., Wu, X.C., Chen, V.W. & Groves, F.D. (2005). Urbanisation and incidence of acute lymphocytic leukaemia among United States children aged 0-4. Br J Cancer, 92, 2084-2088.
Adelman, S.J., Adelman, A.S. & Pintado, O.I. (2003). On the relationship between the mercury-manganese stars and the metallic-lined stars. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 397, 267-273.

Presentations and posters:
Participation in a panel for Darwin Week at the College of Charleston, February 10, 2009, criticizing the anti-evolutionist film Expelled:  No Intelligence Allowed (http://www.cofc.edu/~dillonr/DarwinWeekIX.html)
Adelman, A.S., McLaughlin, C.C., Wu, X.C., Chen, V.W. & Groves, F.D. (2005). Urbanization and incidence of acute lymphocytic leukemia among United States children ages 0-4. In American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 161. pp. S102.  (Presentation at CSEB-SER 2005.)
Adelman, A., Groves, F. & Sinha, D. (2003). Residential mobility and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL):  a case-control study. In American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 157. pp. S8. (Poster at SER 2003.)
Adelman, A., Groves, F. & Sinha, D. (2003). Residential mobility and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL):  an ecological study. In American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 157. pp. S9. (Poster at SER 2003.)

Reviewing experience:
Medical Principles and Practice:  1 article in 2007.
British Journal of Cancer:  1 article in 2007.

Languages:
English (native), Hebrew (functional).

20 Tammuz 5767: National Fried Chicken Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:Two of those robots showed up again, each with something different he/she/it (unsure which pronoun to use) wanted me to post. One urged me to direct everyone to the review of Transformers on the Bad Astronomy Blog. The other gave me a review, which I have included below. If anyone knows where I can buy some robot repellant, please tell me. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.

Aaron



Transformers: Identity Crisis
My name is Microtron and I am the child of Megatron the Ambassador to Earth from Cybertron and I really don’t want to write this but he’s making me so here I am writing this stupid thing. And the whole thing is stupid and everyone is making a big deal over nothing and that’s stupid and I want to go do something else and I would but he has a really big plasma cannon.

I hate my life.

The truth is I’M BORED! If he would just let me out once in a while and do something outside the stupid spaceship, I would probably be the good little darling he wants, but no, some stupid law means I have to stay put in this can and do nothing.

And he’s standing over my shoulder and saying something about how I need to be fair and talk about all kinds of important stuff I should know and stuff. And he has a really big plasma cannon.

Fine. According to Cybertonian law, the spaceship (right now sitting in the Pacific Ocean in international waters off the coast of North America) is an embassy, which means it’s technically part of the Republic of Cybertron. I am a citizen of Cybertron and can be in the embassy. But I’m not an ambassador or a staff member or part of the police force at large, so I have like no business being outside the embassy, so he says. And that’s stupid because we are in international waters, so I should be able to fly around and look at stuff. Okay, the robot with the plasma cannon wants me to say that I do get to fly around outside some. I transform in a very light business jet, and I am painted in pretty hot pink and black and I would look totally cool if anyone could see me because I can only go a few miles or kilometers or whatever from the spaceship because he won’t let me do anything fun like buzz Hawai‘i.

Okay, I can’t fly to Hawai‘i, at least not from here. But he’s being overprotective and silly because he is a parent and somehow that damages you. And just because a cruise ship wobbled funny when I flew right over it doesn’t mean I had anything to do with it.

So I have to stay in this stupid spaceship and it’s boring. Why did he even have a kid on Earth if the kid couldn’t do anything? He says when I’m mature enough I can be deputized if we are still on Earth then, go out and capture Autobots and bring them to justice. If we are still on Earth. And then it’s just work, no sightseeing, no fun. I understand why Las Vegas is Autobot City.

So I heard about this Transformers and wanted to go see it. I saw the cartoon movie they made about twenty years ago and it was bad bad bad bad bad and had nothing to do with anything, though sometimes when I’m mad I kind of wish Unicron would come and eat the planet and then I wouldn’t have to be stuck here. Or maybe just the stupid spaceship. So I went and asked Dad (Megatron) and this is what he said certainly not! And then I walked away because talking to him was pointless. And he has a plasma cannon.

But I’m really bored and I want to see it so I went to Starscream. Starscream is like a parent to me, and he and Dad—I think he’s a he, or maybe a she; I don’t think either of them have decided or care. Weirdoes. They both say I watch too much human television, like I have anything else to do.

Anyway, Starscream and Dad love each other and Starscream is like a parent and so I asked him and please please please pretty please pretty pretty please I never get to do anything! And he said have I told you how many times I’ve been shot at? And then he went on and on about how the United States is not friendly to us, and how the National Guard and the Army and the Navy and the Air Force like to shoot missiles at him whenever they realize he is not a normal jet fighter, and like these other times when police officers have shot their little guns at him and stuff like that, and even this one human who attacked him with a baseball bat. And then he said something about how I won’t fit in an ordinary theater so there’s no point in even trying. And then he said that it would be out on a few months on DVD and BlueRay, and then we would get a copy and watch it together if we wanted.

So I told him okay and went straight to Soundwave.

Soundwave is like really boring, like he has no personality whatsoever, I kid you not. His job is like to communicate with the humans and translate stuff and stuff, so he studies all the time. And he turns into some obsolete recording device, which is stupid. He says it’s symbolic. Uh-huh.

So when I’m not working on my education or being bored (mostly the same thing), Dad has me working for Soundwave. He says the few of us kids of embassy people born here on Earth need to have jobs, so he stuck me with Mr. Boring and the others get jobs like working on engineering or reformatting and stuff. And even though I watch a lot of human television programs and know English and Spanish and Japanese really good, he makes me study some others. So I like ask him, why do I got to study Turkish? And tells me in the most boring way possible that there are these countries that have shown some interest in talking to us, and Turkey is one of them. And so are Switzerland, India, Brazil, Israel, Morocco, South Africa, Thailand, and Taiwan, so I need to work on some new languages because he needs more help. Great, my parent wants me to be a diplomat. How stupid. So I tell him, hey, this movie is coming out, so we should go see it so we can adapt to how the humans understand us. And then he shows me some of the essays he already wrote about the movie, so the humans know the Autobots are a bunch of liars, and I tell him he shouldn’t judge movies he hasn’t seen, and then he asks me what the chances of the movie being good are based on what it’s about and who’s making it.

I hate it when he’s right. Which is like always.

And then he had to go because Laserbeak just flew in to inform him that Optimus Prime had been arrested.

Like everyone knows, Optimus Prime is like the guy who pretends to be Autobot Commander for the humans. Some human caught him snooping on like his human ex-girlfriend of his, and then it came out that he was perving all over her. Oh, no! No one understands me! I got be the leader and that makes me sad! Boo hoo on you, Optimus Prime! Everyone liked you and you didn’t have to do anything but say Autobots, transform and roll out! Let’s see you try to make sense of noun declensions in Hindi and tell me your life sucks. You don’t see me digesting humans. Loser.

He really is a loser in person. I tapped into the sensors in his cell and he was just sitting there. Okay, not sitting. He just transformed into a truck cab and parked in the corner. Loser. And usually Starscream or one of the deputies was around trying to ask him questions, and he was like totally out of it and saying all this weird stuff. Total loser. I mean, he was like so into this human, and she dumped him, and he is so not over her. I could like tell you some really sick stuff he said, but Dad says that’s not really nice and none of anyone else’s business and I am way off topic. But I can say that one of things he was going on and on about was that his girlfriend would have done stuff with him if he hadn’t been so pervy. And he wanted to go to some of the times they would be showing the movie with her because everyone would cheer him and he would be so proud and she would be proud of him. And one of these showings was going to be in San Francisco. And then he said something really weird and you would just deactivate if I put it in here, but Dad has the plasma cannon so I can’t.

And so I double-checked when there would be Autobots showing up for movie showings, and there was going to be one in San Francisco, and I really really really wanted to go and I knew Dad would say no. And so I waited for the day and went anyway.

And I can’t tell you how I did that because Dad doesn’t want me to. But it was really cool.

So I put these decals of Autobot symbols on my wings so they would think I’m an Autobot, not like I like them, especially after I read The Welder Diaries and The Autobot Manifesto. Like Barricade said, I wouldn’t be a Decepticon, so I won’t be an Autobot. But I got to blend, and in any case, it’s not like I get to wear the government-service symbols yet.

So I get to San Francisco Bay, and my Dad wants me to say I’m really sorry for causing some car accidents when I did the loopty-loop thing around the Golden Gate Bridge, but it’s not my fault those humans are lousy drivers. And then I tried the flip-and-transform thing like that Buttmonkey guy who plays Starscream does in the movie and tried to land on the bridge and I went SPLASH into San Francisco Bay. But, hey, not even Starscream does that. Okay, he can, but he doesn’t like it because it’s really hard to slow down enough at the right moment before doing it. And so I kind of plowed into the water and people got wet on the bridge and I kind of got stuck in the water. I didn’t exactly sink but I never quite learned to swim since I TURN INTO AN AIRPLANE, so I’m going nowhere.

Well, lucky for me Broadside was there in the bay. Broadside is a big, big Autobot who turns into an aircraft carrier, so he’s really, really big but he’s really, really slow. The Autobots like to bring him out in fights but he mostly stands around and looks scary because he’s really really slow, so no one is really scared of him and he should really be scaled down into something else. But for an Autobot he’s also nice, and he saw me and transformed and then walked through the water and picked me up. And this took about an hour. And then he says I need to be careful and that the movie tricks are silly, and he walks me to the shore and puts me down and wishes me well. And that takes like another hour. And then he goes back and that takes a while.

And while this is going down this orange and blue robot thing comes at me, and it’s Huffer. He’s one of the ones that turns into a truck that looks a lot like the one Optimus Prime turns into but his transformation totally sucks, and I think that makes him feel bad and he takes it out on everyone. And he’s like what are you doing here! No one authorized any minibot airplanes! And he’s scary and he wanted to know who I was. And I said my name was Stratos Fear because that’s like a joke name at the embassy for like what one of their kids would come up with, and I told him I had been at a United States base in Japan, and I said stuff in Japanese, and he said stuff back in Japanese, and he told me my accent was terrible and that I was too stupid to live if I did stupid stunts like that. And I said I was sorry and he threatened to do bad things to me, and then he stomped off.

And so there was this big screen where they would show the movie when it was dark out, and there were all these humans, and there were also a bunch of Autobots. Ultra Magnus was there. He’s supposed to be the acting Autobot Commander, and he’s formatted like Optimus Prime except he’s painted white and since Prime’s been arrested he’s been very public. And he was standing there preaching to humans about fighting for justice and stuff blah blah blah so boring I’d rather listen to Soundwave. And the humans clapped like they actually liked what he said. Whatever.

There were also some Yuckatrons from the movie, and they were wearing really big pairs of sunglasses and trying to sign autographs. And there was Cliffjumper, who’s like one of the older Autobots who came right from Cybertron, and he turns into a red New Beetle, and he looked angry. And near him were a bunch of the younger Autobots, and one of them was Hot Rod. Hot Rod is like totally hot. Okay, Autobots get ridiculous with so many of them being painted red, but Hot Rod actually makes it look good.

And now Dad made me take out all the stuff I just wrote about Hot Rod. Anyway, Hot Rod was standing around with that drag queen Arcee, and that other drag queen Tracks, and they’re standing around talking to each other and he’s making himself look stupid trying to look impressive to them (he really doesn’t need to do that, he is so hot) and suddenly Wheelie (who’s an annoying little dorkbot) comes running up to me and jumps up and down and like finally I look at him. And I really really really want to tell you what he told me, but I can’t because Dad says so, and he has the plasma cannon.

And then Wheelie runs off and starts blurting it out to Hot Rod and friends. And Tracks tells him like shut up! You want the humans to hear? And then Arcee was like flipping angry and wanted to know where he heard this and was saying she was not going to do that, and humans were starting to look and Hot Rod got mad and said he wouldn’t do it either. And then he just looked awesome as he stomped over to this parking lot and started yelling at this white PT Cruiser. And he said that Ironhide didn’t have any business making decisions without them, and he started kicking the front bumper. And then the PT Cruiser transformed and oh my gosh it was Elita One. And then she is like yelling back saying he is being stupid and he doesn’t care, and he’s being so awesome yelling back at her saying Ironhide needs to listen to them and that they have rights. And then Elita One said he sounded like a DECEPTICON and Hot Rod got so mad and he was like putting some serious dents in her. And then Arcee and Tracks were like pulling him off her and lots of humans were looking.

And then Ultra Magnus came over and separated everybody and started going on and on about how everyone was upset about how the Decepticons had captured Optimus Prime, and that even now they were planning his rescue. (They are not. Dad says they won’t bother and will probably announce he’s dead in a week.) And then he says the movie is a tribute to Prime and his great leadership and that we should all consider what the Autobots stand for when watching the movie, and all this stuff about sacrifice and stuff. And while this was going on Elita One snuck off and went into this truck trailer which looked just like the one Optimus Prime always drags around, and the truck cab looked like Huffer, so I knew something was going on.

So it finally got dark enough, and all the humans sat down on these chairs, and the Autobots gathered around and we watched the movie. And Hot Rod was all snuggly with Arcee, and so I picked up Tracks and put him in my lap because I wanted to make Hot Rod jealous even though he doesn’t know I’m alive. And Tracks did stuff, and Dad wants me to not talk about that, and he has a plasma cannon, so I need to talk about the movie.

So this was like two movies actually, kind of like that one movie Steven Spielberg made based on a Stanley Kubrik script, A.I. That was half syrupy cutesy stuff and the other half was creepy Kubrik stuff and it was weird. And this one was like that, maybe because Spielberg helped produce it. But it was directed by Michael Bay, who only makes noisy, stupid stuff where lots of things blow up, so it was sometimes syrupy and cutesy and the other half noisy and stupid and had lots of things blowing up.

So the cutesy, syrupy movie was actually not that bad, really stupid but halfway watchable. And it was about this Sam Witwicky guy (played by Shia LeBouf) who wants to get a car so he can hook up with this girl (played by Megan Fox), and then this magic Camaro Bumblebee (played by Camaro Karen) who’s really an Autobot appears and weird things happen. And whoever wrote this part was cribbing off of E.T. and The Love Bug because that was pretty much it. And then some more Autobots appear and magically change into local cars and stuff and they ask for help getting these glasses he owns so they can find the magic Allspark which can bring machines to life magically so they Decepticons can’t get it and do evil, evil things. And then there’s a bunch of halfway decent comedy about Sam trying to get the glasses. And they did a little to develop Sam and his girlfriend as characters. A little. And that’s where that pretty much ends.

And like the other movie is this lametrunk excuse for an action movie that is loud and stupid and has some really really stupid stuff in it. And most of it was really stupid and didn’t make much sense. Like the magic Allspark which can turn ordinary machines into robots using its magic radiation. And Sam being chased by Megatron (played by Omni Imperator) up a building, which is like in every horror movie (killer appears, victim runs up the stairs). And the baddies can clog up the telephones and the Internet but they can’t stop the humans from using walkie talkies. (Something like what was in Independence Day.) And the Allspark is so powerful that the Decepticons can’t be allowed to get it, so they let this kid Sam carry it around, leave him unprotected, don’t even bother to think of a plan to keep it safe, and bring it to an urban area to hide it so the Decepticons can show up and recklessly endanger humans, blow up things, and tear Jazz (played by Spasm) graphically in half. And there is no character development, or any real reasons for anything other than to be loud and annoying. And it has Optimus Prime (played by Roadkill, voiced by Peter McCullen) abandon Bumblebee when he could easily rescue him, and a bunch of annoying ethnic stereotypes that are so twentieth-century and lame (I though the United States banned open bigotry), and a stupid secret government group called Sector Seven which has the most unlikable character ever since Telly in Kids and we don’t even get to see him die messily like he deserves. All we get to see is Bumblebee pee on him, all graphic and full frontal, I kid you not. (He should have been stepped on.) And they lifted Bumblebee’s hood and found an engine when it should have been a bunch of computer guts in there because he’s a robot and he doesn’t have a gasoline engine in there. (Snap him in half if you don’t believe me.) And there is stupid stuff where the Transformers blow their cover stupidly, like putting an Autobot symbol on the front of Prime’s grill, or a Decepticon symbol and the phrase TO DESTROY AND ENSLAVE on the side of Barricade (played by Doughnut), like no one would notice that. And even though they had Prime preaching about sacrifice, and he could have easily destroyed the Allspark and saved everyone a bunch of trouble by stuffing it in his chest and killing himself. Does he kill himself? No! He has to keep the movie going on that much longer. I might have enjoyed the syrupy movie but the totally exhausty movie spoiled it. Not worth it. And there were all these stupid product placements, and it was this big long car commercial, and GM must have really been hungry for money to make this happen.

(I guess I don’t need to say that there is no Allspark, and there is no magic radiation that turn ordinary machines into Transformers, and that we cannot magically scan something and become that thing. It took a bit of time, a bunch of modifications that were really not fun, and a blowtorch to turn me into a jet, and then there was all the work for the paint job, so I know it doesn’t work that way. If we could do that, we wouldn’t need to be transforming robots because we would be shape-shifters.

And Soundwave was dead on about a bunch of things. Autobots are good and defend humans regardless. Decepticons are all bad for no real reason and get like no character development like they’re a bunch of pointless killing machines. Autobot dictatorship rules. Made the cartoon movie look good. Soundwave is always right, darn it.

And so I got really sick of watching this, so I stood up, and Tracks fell down, and a bunch of Autobots yelled at me just as Sam finished off Megatron by smushing the Allspark into him because I was blocking their view, and then I was walking away as I was trying to figure out where I could get enough runway to take off, and then I knew there was a reason there were no Autobots who turned into airplanes here, and while I’m thinking about asking Broadside for a favor getting me in the air, there’s Huffer and Cliffjumper coming up to me and saying you’d better come with us and they take my arms and lead me away. And I ask them what they want, and they say they need to talk to me, and they take me to Huffer’s trailer in the parking lot. And even though I’m taller than both of them I know they can beat me deactivated, so I’m really scared. And then Elita One comes out of Huffer’s trailer, and even though it’s dark I can see that Hot Rod beat the exhaust out of her, and she has all these dents in some of her panels and her face is really messed up. And she asks me who I am, and I give her the Stratos Fear story, and say I beat up a few Decepticons over Tokyo Bay, and she calls me a liar, and then tries to slap me in the face, and after she jumps up and down a few times she does it. And then she says there is no Stratos Fear, and she nods at Huffer, and Huffer says combat deck, transform!

So I’m standing there, and the trailer transforms into Prime’s combat deck, and that little Roller robot rolls out and transforms into something scary I’ve never seen before, and the combat deck has scary glowing things on it, and I’m scared. And then Elita One says she’s going to learn the truth and tells the combat deck to start by cutting off my wings. And I so I fire my turbofans and jerk away from them. And I wish I had some really powerful jets instead of the lametrunk engines I have, and I just run.

So I’m running though San Francisco at night, and I’m trying really hard not to step on things and humans, and Cliffjumper has transformed and is coming after me and gaining on me without even trying, so I duck down this side street and Cliffjumper crashes into an awning. And then Huffer pops up at the other side of the street, and he looks mean, and I get really scared when I see Cliffjumper coming at me from the other end and I panic and start climbing a building. And I wasn’t designed to climb, so I am tearing the building up and bricks are falling down and I am really scratching my paint, but I’m getting there, and the turbofans help a little. And Cliffjumper comes after me, and I kick him in the head, and when he hit the ground I think it messed up his panels. And then I keep going, and so I’m a few stories up.

And the roof was creaking because, even though I’m not as heavy as I look I was heavy enough. And that Roller thing arrived and it climbed the side of the building, and I was picking off bricks and throwing them at it and it was still coming, so I ran and jumped to another building, and that made noise and something of a mess. And Roller was still coming, so I went to another building, and then it was not only Cliffjumper and Huffer following me, but then there were a bunch of other Autobots down there away. And Omni Imperator was waving his fist as me, and Buttmonkey ran and jumped and transformed and tried to fly at me but he couldn’t get airborne so he plowed into a building. And Wheelie was climbing and saying Decepticon, come on by, give up now or you will die. So I go running and jumping, and some of them start shooting plasma guns at me, and there’s something of a mess, and I keep running and jumping, and then I’m like, I’m finished, and I run and jump and transform and blast the engines as much as I can.

And I’m going too slow to get airborne. And I fall.

And then I’m going up because out of nowhere Deputy Vortex, who turns into a helicopter, he’s there and partly transformed and he’s grabbed my wing and holding me up and he’s yelling hit it hit it hard! And I revved my engines all the way up and he pulls me along and I got fast enough that I could stay up. And the Autobots are still shooting at me, and we head out over the bay, and Broadside comes after us but he’s too slow. And then partway home some of the Aerialbots came after us, but they flew away after Starscream and about half a dozen Seekers showed up.

Not that I wouldn’t have minded being blown away because first Vortex was yelling at me, and then Starscream yelled at me, and then Dad threw me in the brig next to Optimus Prime and yelled at me and said I broke so many laws and I was in so much trouble. And I pointed out yelling at me was not in the parenting manuals I’d looked at as an effective technique, and he just yelled at me more. And then he went away, and I told Prime I saw his son Hot Rod and that he was hot. And he was sort of happy to hear that and I told him that I saw him beat up Elita One, and then he started yelling at me. And he wouldn’t shut up. For hours.

So now I’m writing this to say I’m sorry. And I had no business being in the United States. Or running around or damaging buildings. Or sneaking out and scaring everybody that they had to send someone after me. (You little snitch Frenzy!) Or messing with the Autobots. Or pretending to be one. Or being so stupid as to fly somewhere without a convenient runway. And I’m sorry Hot Rod can’t see Arcee for the nasty skank with fat thighs she is. She probably has rust too.

And Dad has the plasma cannon. And I will never, ever do that again. That movie was so not worth it.